Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART) continues to receive deeply disturbing reports from partners in Sudan of continuing escalations of human rights abuses in the Republic of Sudan (formerly northern Sudan) particularly in the ‘three areas’ of Abyei, South Kordofan and Blue Nile.
Furthermore, amid a swell in international attention, the past months have seen deterioration in relationships between the Republic of Sudan and South Sudan as well as other countries in the region. The increasing tensions between Khartoum and its neighbours raise serious fears of a return to war in the region. According to a recent document published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, up to 70% of Khartoum’s income is being used for military expenditure.
South Kordofan (Nuba Mountains)
• Fighting began In South Kordofan on June 5, 2011.
• Satellite images published by the Satellite Sentinel Project in January 2012 of the Kauda Valley region suggest a similar pattern of activity and Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) vehicles to that seen prior to the invasion of Abyei in May 2011 (http://www.satsentinel.org/report/siege-evidence-saf-encirclement-kauda-valley).
• Aerial bombardment by SAF is an almost daily occurrence, with 923 bombs recorded since June, killing 83 and injuring 170 people. 83 shells or rockets have also been recorded since November.
• One report claims 40 bombs were dropped on civilians in the last three days of November alone. In addition to those civilians killed, many others will die from injuries because of lack of access to medical care.
• Heavy fighting continues between SPLA-North (Sudan People’s Liberation Army – North) and Sudan Armed Forces (SAF). On 1 December SAF claimed to have taken the town of Taruje. Further fighting resumed on 15 January south of the town.
• Local partners suggest at least 305,523 people are internally displaced within South Kordofan because of the conflict.
• The government of Khartoum continues to deny access to humanitarian organisations to reach the victims of the conflict. On 20 January News agency AFP reported that Sudan rejected any plan for an aid corridor to civilians in South Kordofan or Blue Nile States.
• The governor of South Kordofan, already wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes in Darfur, has prevented the setting up of camps for those who have been displaced.
• The humanitarian conditions for the displaced are deteriorating with many hiding in caves in the mountains at risk from lethal snakes. HART was told “We are more afraid of the bombs than we are of the snakes”. Hiding in the harsh mountain conditions, they cannot obtain adequate supplies of food, water and medicines. Incidence of diseases including pneumonia, diarrhoea, skin infections, malaria, and typhoid is rising.
• Reportedly over 23,000 refugees have fled into Unity State in the new Republic of South Sudan with another 300-500 arriving every day. Many are already suffering severe health problems having walked for days without food or water and vulnerable to continuing aerial bombardments.
• On 10 November, 4 bombs targeted Yida, a refugee camp in Unity State, South Sudan. On 7 December, South Sudan demanded the immediate withdrawal of Sudanese troops after they occupied the border town of Jau, Unity state, on the weekend of 3 December.
The risk of famine in South Kordofan
• Constant aerial bombardment has prevented farmers from cultivating their land, exacerbating the desperate situation with regard to food supplies.
• Deaths from malnutrition are already recorded; growing numbers of children are suffering from malnutrition. An estimated 20-27% of children in Heiban, and approximately the same figure for refugees arriving in Yida, are recorded with Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) and 2-9% with Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM).
• Reports from Dellami state that only 10% of staple food items are available in markets, with prices having more than doubled from previous years.
• Reports from the Buram locality show that only 23% of fields were cultivated this year. The amount of food available in markets is thought to be as low as 15% of that available in previous years.
• Similar figures are estimated in Hiban locality, with reports that only 25-30% of land has been cultivated in comparison to other years. Sorghum harvests from November will last an average family only 2-3months, even with only 1 meal a day. In an average year they would last 9 months.
• With the end of the dry season approaching, the food and water available to those trapped in the Nuba Mountains will decrease unless access for humanitarian organisations is granted by Khartoum.
• Fighting in Blue Nile State began on September 1 2011.
• Reports from numerous sources consistently describe offensives and atrocities perpetrated by the Government of Sudan similar to those reported in Southern Kordofan. These include aerial bombardment resulting in civilian deaths and injuries, denial of access for humanitarian aid, extrajudicial killings, detentions and torture of civilians, and looting of civilian properties.
• It is estimated that up to 38,000 have fled into Ethiopia and 21,000 into South Sudan.
• Tens of thousands of civilians who have fled Blue Nile are trapped at the border trying to enter South Sudan.
• A report by the Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP) analysing images captured on 11 - 27 November indicates SAF destruction of civilian homes, heavy armour movement and aerial bombardment in Amara village.
• On January 10, renewed fighting was reported near Ahmarsidak.
• On January 23, air attacks were carried out on a refugee camp in the town of Elfoj in Upper Nile state, South Sudan. The camp holds 5000 people who have fled fighting in Blue Nile in Sudan and is located just 10km from the border with Sudan. One boy was injured and 14 people are missing.
• Since fighting began in May 2011, over 120,000 of the indigenous Ngok-Dinka Population have fled to South Sudan. Many aid organisations, including Oxfam, have pulled out of the region and the UNHCR has publically condemned the Sudanese take-over of the Abyei region.
• The plight of civilians displaced from Abyei continues to be cause for grave concern both for Sudan and South Sudan. During a visit to Bahr-El-Ghazel in September 2011, HART met some of the many 100,000 who had fled the fighting in Abyei and are living in conditions of great hardship in improvised camps without adequate facilities or supplies.
• On December 22, the mandate of the UN peacekeeping force in Abyei was extended for a further 5 months and the situation remains unresolved.
Oil from South Sudan halted
• On 20 January, President Salva Kiir released a statement explaining that all oil production in South Sudan would be halted due to a lack of guarantee that oil will reach its destination. He estimated that Sudan has taken $815million of oil since Khartom began diverting oil in December 2011.
• On 25 January, it was announced that a deal had been made between South Sudan and Kenya for the building of a pipeline to the Kenyan port of Lamu, this would allow oil to bypass Sudan and is estimated to be ready in 11 months.
• Negotiations between the two countries over oil, trade and border issues began in Addis Ababa on 21 November. On 2 December, after failure to come to an agreement on oil it was agreed that negotiations would resume during December and January in Khartoum and Juba.
• All oil from South Sudan is transported through Sudan to Port Sudan. Sudan is demanding $36 dollar per barrel in transfer fees.
• According to IMF (International Monetary Fund) report on 25 October 2011 South Sudan relies on oil for 98% of its revenue and oil production makes up 2/3 of GDP. Before the independence of South Sudan, Sudan relied on oil for 50% of its revenue and 90% of its exports. Sudan lost 75% of oil production when South Sudan became independent.
• Sudan’s application to join the East African Community (EAC) was rejected on 20 November. The Ugandan minister for East African affairs, Eriya Kategaya, had previously stated that Sudan’s application was rejected by Uganda and Tanzania after review of issues including treatment of women, religious politics and democracy.
The UN Security Council and the International Community must urgently respond to the following issues:
1. The Government of Sudan’s continuing military offensives, including aerial bombardment of civilians by Antonovs, MiGs and helicopter gunships. There is acute fear of an intensification of military activities with grave consequences for the civilian population.
2. The Government of Sudan’s refusal to allow access by humanitarian aid organisations to civilians, wherever they are in need. Khartoum has been accused of using starvation as a weapon of war.
3. Urgent provision of adequate humanitarian aid to displaced people who have fled from Abyei, South Kordofan and Blue Nile.
Comment on this article!